TXOTX: A Celebration of Basque Culture


In the North of Spain, along the vertiginous Cantabrian mountain range, there is a magical place known as the Basque Country. Fiercely independent, El País Vasco has their own language, Euskal, that has enough x’s and z’s to make even a Scrabble champion flinch. In the years since Franco’s regime, the region has experienced an incredible resurgence, and US consumers have been able to explore the fascinating beverages from the region.

The wines from the Basque region fall into two categories: the refreshing and saline white wines called “txakoli” (Chay-coal-ee) and the spicy reds from the Rioja Alavesa. If you think you know Rioja, buckle your seatbelt, you’re in for a surprise!

But the Basque region’s real treasure is its cider. Briny and delicately fizzy, it is unlike any cider you’ve ever tried before. The Basque Cider season traditionally begins on the 19th of January. On this day, cider houses (known in Euskal as Sagardotegis) open up their fermentation barrel rooms to the public and host large celebrations, pouring the freshly made cider directly out of the casks. The low carbonation of the cider requires a long, aerating pour: guests will hold their glass at least an arm’s length away and let the cider splash into the glass. When an owner is about to tap a barrel, he shouts “¡Txotx!” (pronounced “Choach”) to alert his Sagardotegi guests. This battle cry has become synonymous with the festivities, and Txotx is one of the signature events of the Pais Vasco.

In that tradition, we plan to turn Camerata into its very own Sagardotegi. Throughout the weekend of January 20-22, the bar will pour exciting wines and ciders from the Basque region. Join us on Thursday the 19th for a Porrón pouring competition or any day that weekend for a chance to taste through the amazing wines and ciders of the region!